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Korea’s Fast-Moving Strategy on Green Growth
Related links
- Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI)
February 2011
Korea's Fast-Moving Strategy on Green Growth

Mr. Ki-Jong Woo (Secretary General, Presidential Committee on Green Growth, Republic of Korea)


--- Korea is taking a positive role in promoting green growth as national strategy. Why does Korea focus on green growth? What is the background?

Woo:
Korea is facing several crises in the area of economy and environment. The first crisis is the increasing impacts of climate change. The IPCC Fourth Assessment Report showed that the world's average temperature has risen by 0.74°c for the past century (the world's average temperature is expected to rise by as much as 6.4°c by the end of this century) and the Stern Review, released in 2006, mentioned that the estimate of economic loss caused by climate change has been projected to reach 5~20% of world's GDP. Korea's situation is more serious because the average temperature rise for the past 100 years (1912~2008) has been recorded at 1.8°c, which is much higher than the world's average. This situation requires Korea to address the challenge of climate change more actively.

The second crisis is energy shortages. Fossil fuel, which accounts for 85% of the global energy source, is a limited resource and will be exhausted in the near future. However, the demand for it is growing because of the global economic growth, causing price rises and resource depletion. In particular, Korea with its energy-intensive industrial structure, imports 97% of its energy sources from abroad, which consequently calls for a transition to non-fossil fuel use.

The third crisis is a slowdown in economic growth. Korea's fast economic growth was due to contributions by heavy industry, chemical industry and electronics industries. However, with heated global competition in these industries, Korea now faces a slowdown of its growth. This brings about the need for a new growth engine.

Korea, confronted with the above-mentioned crises (climate change, energy crisis and slowdown in economic growth) seeks a new environment and economic paradigm to address its challenges. It can be said that the paradigm shift to address these challenges served as the background for green growth policies. Consequently, green growth addresses the challenges of environmental degradation and climate change caused by economic growth while creating new growth engines through the development of clean energy source. In other words, it is a new growth paradigm where economic growth and environmental sustainability are harmonised.

--- What are the main features of Korea's green growth strategy?

Woo:
A number of economic-policy experts say that Governmental intervention is inevitable since green growth policy is a paradigm shift. In the case of Korea's green growth, the most unique feature is the strong political leadership which initiated the vision. Furthermore, President Lee insisted that green growth should be the new vision for the next 60 years as one of his remarks on the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Republic of Korea, in 2008. His announcement made the green growth move forward.

After the President's initiation of the vision, the Korean government established the Presidential Committee on Green Growth which was to serve as the coordinator of green growth policy in 2009, followed by the establishment of institutional foundation, the Framework Act on Green Growth in 2010. The Committee set a 5-year plan to implement the policy with three policy directions of efficient GHG mitigation, fossil-fuel free economy and energy independence, and strengthening capacity to address climate change.


--- Korea established Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) last year. How will it influence world trends?

Woo:
GGGI was established by the Korean government in June 2010, yet it is an independent and non-profit private institution with a certain objective in providing assistance to developing countries in setting out and implementing their own green growth policies. Since green growth policy is to address climate change and overcoming the energy crisis, it will also benefit developing countries. However, international assistance is needed in developing countries which lack of the capacity to pursue such policies due to financial and technological difficulties.

The Korean government will provide assistance to developing countries in pursuing green growth policies through GGGI. Such activities will ensure that green growth is recognised as a global asset.


--- What are the future perspectives of Korea's green growth strategy? Are there any possibilities to cooperate with Japan or other Asian countries?

Woo:
The scope of green growth, currently led by the government, will be expanded as the private sector becomes more involved in the implementation of green growth. For example, fuel cell technology developed by the government-led R&D efforts will be used by automobile companies to commercialise next generation vehicles. Advancement of new and renewable energy technology may lead the decrease of fossil fuel use. It also means that the private sector is expected to make more investment in green growth areas following the initiative made by the government.

Efforts for green growth and GHG mitigation are global agenda items which require exchanges of experiences among countries. Korea is keenly and actively engaging in international cooperation to promote green growth, and there will be many areas of cooperation with Asian countries including Japan.

In particular, the Korean Government has already carried out cooperation projects with other Asian developing countries through the ‘East Asia Climate Partnership', which was established for the purpose of supporting Asian countries in addressing climate change with USD 200 million of financing from 2008 to 2012.

The Korean Government expects that more cooperation with Japan can be made in the field of energy efficiency and green growth technology development and so on.


--- Thank you very much.




About "Monthly Asian Focus: Observations on Sustainability"

Until 2010, IGES has released “Top News on the Environment in Asia” on a yearly basis. For over 12 years since its establishment of IGES in 1998, “Top News” has collected and organised information about environmental issues and policy trends in the region.

In January 2011, IGES launched the new web-based series "Monthly Asian Focus: Observations on Sustainability" in which leading environmental experts deliver their take on latest trends of sustainable Asia.

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